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California regulating ballast water discharge

California regulating ballast water discharge

   Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed this week a bill that requires the California State Lands Commission to adopt regulations on performance standards for the discharge of ballast water by January 2008 to prevent the spread of invasive species.

   Michigan is the only other state to pass such a law, but the California law is considered much stronger.

   Press reports quote figures from the office of Sen. Joseph Simitian (D-Palo Alto), as saying about 21 billion gallons of ballast water are discharged into U.S. waters every year and that about 7,000 species of marine life are transported in ballast water.

   Dennis L. Bryant, an attorney with the law firm Holland & Knight, wrote in his daily roundup of developments in maritime law Thursday that the California Coastal Ecosystems Protection Act “largely codifies the performance standards recommended by the SLC in January, which include a goal of zero detectable marine organisms in discharged ballast water by 2020.”

   But Bryant notes: “the SLC acknowledges that there is no current technology that can achieve the goal, and that it appears to him that “California is legislating hope in place of fact.”

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